Land owners, local residents and environmentalists have risen in a united protest against the proposed construction of two wind power plants (RES) at Yalıkavak and Akyarlar districts in Bodrum. They are demanding the cancellation of the project, principally because the area in question is an important area for archaeology and nature, as well as being close to residential and tourist zones.
Bodrum is the third largest tourist destination in Turkey, generating revenue of 1.7 billion dollars annually. Over the decades it has become world famous for its culture, history, tourism and yachting. Yalıkavak is only 18km from the centre of Bodrum town and is home to one of Turkey’s most prestigious marinas complexes.
Plans for bringing more, and much needed, energy resources to the peninsula have been spoken about for years and last week the company planning to build the wind turbine plant in Geriş held a press conference, at which company spokesmen for Wind Power Production Co. Inc., General Manager, Bertan Korkmaz, and Project Manager, Levent Göçmenöz, replied to the opposition. According to the Turkish media they wished to, “ease the minds of the environmentalists and provided information about the project”.
They said that the planned Geriş Wind Power Plant at Yalıkavak would have 11.2 megawatts, and the 13 wind turbines would produce 48 million kWh of electricity annually.
The Akyar Wind Power Plant in Akyarlar will be constructed and operated for 49 years by the company.
Korkmaz spoke about the project, using visual aids to support his argument. Addressing those who believe that the energy to be produced would be insufficient, General Manager Korkmaz said, “Let’s examine this from another angle. If we do not produce this power from the wind it will be produced using fossil fuel. If we continue to produce electricity using this method, only by planting 90 thousand trees can we can offset the pollution and carbon produced. With the use of wind turbines we can say that, in a way, we will be planting 90 thousand trees in Bodrum every year. Our first licence covers the construction the 13 wind turbine plant in the Geriş district. Our second licence is for the construction of 12 turbines in Akyarlar. The location and distance of these plants from residential areas is within the level of internationally approved standards.”
Those against the project say that they while they do not object to renewable wind energy in principal, they are adamant that the wind turbines should not be built at these locations. They say it is too close to residential areas; the area is a first-degree earthquake zone, and is an important area for wildlife and archaeology. The project, they say, will negative impact on tourism in the area and ‘sabotage’ local businesses. One protestor said “We are not even allowed to plant a tree in this protected area, yet others are coming to plant 50m, 100metres high wind turbines. That’s what we are opposed to.” Another simply said that they wanted to be able to hand the unspoiled mountains to their grandchildren and they wished they had all been consulted.
Furthermore, residents from Geriş and Yalıkavak are concerned that the trees will be felled and the necessary infrastructure for such a project will mean big lorries disturbing their previously peaceful environment. A local resident who did not wish their name to be used, expands on these arguments, saying, “This project has raised conflicting emotions. Bodrum residents want a clean peninsula and clean air, and totally support renewable energy. However, everyone questions the choice of site for the turbines, very close to villages and homes at certain points, on public lands that are some of the last open natural areas, rated first degree Nature Site (SIT) with wildlife as well as archaeological heritage areas. The project has deliberately been designed to have a low threshold to avoid the ÇED report requirement. The rocky steep terrain means very destructive installation. But at the same time the views and greenery around Yalıkavak are part of the tourist package, Bodrum’s most important income.
“In any other country the power companies pay a significant yearly rental for the turbine sites, will Bodrum see that income? Other types of renewable/ green energy sources have been ignored. Biogas plants to reduce the other problem of Bodrum – the mountains of rubbish – have been offered but ignored. More energy efficient solar panels at Yatağan would fit the present distribution infrastructure- again a project ignored”
However, Korkmaz has stressed that 38 organisations had produced 70 reports negating these observations, adding: “Time and time again studies have been carried out in connection with our project from all ecological, geological and archaeological angles, the results of which were favourable, and this is applicable to all wind power plants. For plants with less than 50 megawatts, the reports state that an Environmental Impact Reports (ÇED) are not required. This report is a prominent indication that ÇED is not required in these cases.”
Korkmaz added that so far several non-governmental organizations and individuals had filed charges against the company: “Law suits have been filed demanding the cancellation of the project due to possible damage to the environment. However, these cases do not constitute a hindrance to the instigation and continuation of the project. We shall start building shortly and intent to produce energy by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, locals against the location of the project say that it is clear that the environmental consciousness of Bodrum’s residents, from school children to the elderly, is rising and if they don’t stop the project, no one else will. The publicity now being generated by the people of Geriş, Yalıkavak and Bodrum, suggests that the battle between those passionate to preserve the wilder parts of the Bodrum peninsula, juxtaposed with the urgent need for more clean energy, and big business, has only just begun.
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